By Luminous Jannamike
ABUJA – A civil society group, OurMumuDonDo Movement, has called on the federal government to beam its searchlight on the finances of religious groups operating in the country with a view to making them transparent and accountable to the public.
National Secretary of OurMumuDonDo, Raphael Adebayo, made the call in a statement issued during the weekend, against the background of claims by a popular cleric that he was ready to increase the private jets in his fleet to a double digit figure.
Adebayo said it was unacceptable that religious leaders would be allowed to continue accruing stupendous wealth without checks even at the expense of unsuspecting members of the public while the nation also suffers deficits in numerous areas.
He said, “Regardless of how this issue is viewed, we must, as a nation, urgently consider reforms for our religious organisations.
“We must question this untamed knack of pastors for ostentation and flamboyance. We must question how leaders of religious organisations which are supposedly non-profit are able to acquire properties worth millions of dollars without any explanation as to how these properties were acquired.
“We must ascertain the sources of these luxurious acquisitions, to avoid a situation where pastors unscrupulously use the funds of their churches for themselves, or, even worse; use their churches to siphon stolen public wealth through their unholy alliances with politicians.
“Perhaps, when the latitude for abuse is considerably minimal in religious organisations, the ostentatious desires and lifestyles of their leaders will also reduce.
“Before it is too late, Christians must begin to demand transparency and accountability from their Pastors and General Overseers; the same way we all demand transparency and accountability from elected officials.
“The Nigerian government, also, must review its sacred-cow treatment of religious organisations; for it makes no sense, that while these churches are enjoying exemption from paying taxes, their religious heads are busy accumulating wealth and luxurious properties.
“Our nation suffers deficits in numerous areas, and we can’t have people accruing wealth and living boisterously under false pretences while citizens continue to suffer.”